Thursday, November 12, 2015

New Hand Quilting Project...

I usually have at least two projects going on at any one time...I try to have one quilt top that I am piecing (or getting ready for piecing) and I like to always have a quilt top in my hand quilting frame.  That way I get to choose which project I want to work on when I'm in my quilting room.  Sometimes I'm too tired to focus on piecing but hand quilting doesn't require thought...I just sit and "zen out" while hand quilting.

Yesterday I posted about the new project that I'm going to start piecing soon.  I need to pull the fabrics for that one from my stash and get them cut up...I'll probably do that this weekend.

As for the hand quilting project, I had finished the quilt that was in my frame last weekend so last night I loaded a new top into the frame.

Remember this one?  Cottage Rose baskets...

I put the first stitches in it today and am trying something new..."Big Stitch" quilting...

Big stitch quilting is done with thicker thread...usually perle cotton size 8...and a larger needle.  The idea is to have the stitches show and give "character" to the quilt instead of the very small stitches that can't be easily seen.  It is woefully difficult to find perle cotton thread in our area, so I decided to use crochet cotton in a size 10 (very slightly thinner than perle cotton 8).  I originally bought some embroidery thread and was going to use 2 strands, which would equal size 12 thread, but then decided to try this crochet thread instead.  If I had a thread chart to use to choose colors, I could have purchased the perle cotton online...but it is very difficult to match colors on a computer because they don't show "true" on a monitor.   Just look at the difference in colors between those three pics of the same quilt.  

I was hesitant to try the big stitch quilting but it is really fun, goes quickly, and gives the quilt a totally different "look"!  I definitely will be doing this technique again!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Test Block...

I recently purchased this pattern to make this beautiful quilt...Cottage Blossoms, by Lella Boutique,  

Last night I thought I'd make a test block to see how it goes together...

OOPS!!!  That leaf on the right didn't quite turn out the correct way!  I added those white squares to the wrong corners of the "leaf"!  LOL

And this, Folks, is why I always make a test block first before I dive into the actual quilt!!!  

Other than that sad leaf, I really like the block!  It went together fairly quickly with scraps that I pulled from my scrap-user's system (ala Bonnie Hunter).  These blocks are HUGE!  They finish out at something like 17" x 23.5".  You can't tell it from the picture of the finished quilt, but it is 77" x 81.5".  I think I'm going to add another border to make it slightly bigger for a queen-sized bed.  Anyway...there's only 12 of these blocks to make, so I'm hoping to get it done fairly quickly...right after I put the label on the quilt I just finished up (pics to follow in the not-to-distant future).


Sunday, October 11, 2015

Changing of the (Seasonal) Wardrobe...

I saw this picture on Facebook and it represented PERFECTLY the colors here in West Virginia this past week!  If you were ever curious as to what Fall looks like where I live...this is it!  The maple trees turned bright red and the oaks turned bright orange this week.  STUNNING!  

Unfortunately, the colors won't last long.  Within a couple of weeks the leaves will all drop and we will be left with naked trees.

Upon checking the weather report for the coming week, I saw that the high's will be in the 50's and 60's with the lows dropping into the 30's and 40's at night.  

With this news, I decided it was time for the bi-annual "Changing of the Wardrobe".  That means that I put away all my short-sleeved summer shirts to make room for the longer-sleeved winter shirts.  When I switch out my clothes at the beginning of the season I hang the hangers backwards when putting them into my (very small) closet.  When I wear a shirt and return it to the closet after being washed, I turn the hanger the right way.  That way at the end of the season, I can tell which clothes I actually wore and which ones I didn't.  The ones that didn't get worn at all get sent off to the consignment shop or thrift store.

But this year I had more issues with pulling my winter clothes out of storage.  I've lost 40 pounds and 2-3 sizes since last winter, so each item had to be tried on and assessed.  I found 4 shirts that I could take up using my serger, and the rest went into bags to be delivered to the consignment shop this week.  

All in all, I emptied 51 hangers, filled one medium-sized trash bag to be discarded (too worn), and filled 3 medium-sized trash bags with shirts and 1 grocery bag with shoes to go to the resale shop. Some of the clothes had only been worn 1-2 times.  

clothes ready to go to their new life somewhere...

Yesterday while Andy and I were out and about grocery shopping we found a moving sale and I got this Elfa storage tower in pristine condition for $5.  When we got home I checked on the internet and saw that they go for $75+ new at The Container Store.  

I'm hoping to find a place in my sewing room for it and use it for fabric storage, but if not, I'll use it somewhere else in the house for storage/organizing.  I've asked Andy to try to find a piece of wood or plastic, etc., to go on the top to make a "shelf".

On the quilting front, I've been working on the hand-quilting on Erin & Dale's wedding quilt when I get the chance.  I'm moving right along on it and as you can see in the picture, I'm close to the top...close to being finished!  I'll probably only need to roll the quilt 2-3 more times and I'll be done.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Wedding Photos...

At the beginning of September Andy & I traveled to Tennessee for our Erin (our daughter) and Dale's wedding.  

The wedding was held on Sept. 13 on the Pedestrian Bridge that overlooks downtown Nashville.  During the week leading up to the wedding, the weather had been miserably hot in the 88-95 range, but the day of the wedding it was a very comfortable...almost "chilly"...70-73 degrees.  On top of the bridge it was windy, but the sky was a spectacular shade of blue and everything was absolutely GORGEOUS!!! 

We hadn't "reserved" the bridge, so it was still open to the public.  As people saw the wedding party arrive they offered "congratulations" and some people (probably tourists) took pictures.  It was a very casual and happy atmosphere with about 25-30 people in attendance.  The ceremony, short and sweet, was performed by the groom's uncle, an ordained minister who flew in from Texas to officiate.  There were a couple of benches nearby, but for the most part, everyone just stood around the alcove where the ceremony was held.  (I guess you could say that the wedding was "standing room only"...har har har!!)

So now...on with the pictures!!!

The bouquets were handmade by the maid-of-honor, Michelle...the "flowers" were folded out of paper!!!  The key hanging from Erin's bouquet went to the padlock, which I'll explained in a minute...

She painted her shoes peacock blue...

Instead of having a unity candle, they had a blue padlock engraved with their names and wedding date.  During the ceremony they attached it to the bridge and then threw the key into the river below!

Lucy, Dale's mom, and me...our "rosette" corsages made from wrapped fabric were also made by Michelle...

Clark was the ring bearer, but decided he wasn't interested as he was being walking down the aisle with Grandpa and Mom...I don't have a picture of that because I had to go out and "rescue" him...he would much rather hang out in his stroller with a toy...or cellphone, it looks like here...

Father of the bride...

Andrew and Alex sure love their Grandpa!!!

Dale and Erin love movies, so the cake toppers were Superman and Little Mermaid...childhood favorites of theirs.

And a couple extra pictures from the visit before the wedding...


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Pastel Basket Blocks....

In my last post, I mentioned a quilt top that I was working on.  I had purchased the finished blocks at an estate auction of a quilter back in 2011.  Most of what I bought at that auction was fabric, but there was one tote that had these finished blocks in it along with extra fabric and the pattern...all part of a "kit".  (The original price tag of $180 was still on the plastic bag inside the tote!)

In an attempt to try to finish up some "UFO's", I pulled the blocks out a couple weeks ago and took a close look at them.  They were pretty, but they were NOT cut or sewn accurately, so they were not square.  To make them usable, I had to trim them down from the approximate 8.5" that they were to 8.25".  In doing so, I lost all the points on the baskets.  I hated to see these blocks go losing the points was the answer to making the blocks square.

I also didn't like the layout in the pattern, so I threw them up on my design wall and came up with this layout...adding the cream sashing between the blocks to cut down on the "busyness" of the scrappiness and to increase the size of the top to fit a queen-sized bed.  

Then I decided to make my first-ever "piano-key" border.  I finished attaching the last border tonight!!

It measures 84.5" x 102" so it is difficult to get a picture of the whole thing.  Instead, I folded it in half and laid it across my ironing board to take these pictures.

The colors are very "shabby chic"...soft and muted...what is referred to as "low volume".  It's not my usual type of quilt because:
  1.  I like lots of contrast between the colors to show the definition of the pattern more; and
  2.  I don't usually like "kit quilts".  I prefer "scrappy quilts" with my own choice of fabrics.
All-in-all, I'm very happy with what I was able to do with them and I think they make a very pretty quilt top...and I didn't have to do all the work of cutting and sewing the original blocks!  

For now it goes on the quilt rack with the other quilt tops that need quilted.  At first I thought I'd machine quilt this one, but I'm thinking I might put it into the frame after I finish Erin's wedding quilt.  I've never done the "big stitch" quilting using perl cotton thread, but I'm thinking this might be the quilt to try it on.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Summer's Almost Over...Time For a Change!!!

Quotes for the Day:

"Our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers." ~M. Scott Peck

"Go where you are celebrated—not tolerated.If they can't see the real value of you, it's time for a new start." ~Unknown

You're probably thinking I've fallen off the face of the earth...again...but really I've just been incredibly busy.  I can't believe that summer is over because I feel like I've not really had a summer yet this year.

My summer started out with deadlines for finishing three quilts...

Clark's 1st Birthday quilt...

Kate and Jon's wedding quilt...

...and Karen's comfort quilt...

In July, we took 14 days and went to Georgia to take care of our two grandsons so that their parents could get away to celebrate their 10th anniversary.  

Just a few short days after returning from that trip, I decided that I had to make a job change to maintain my own sanity, so near the end of July I started job-hunting.  It didn't take long before I had an interview...followed by a job offer...which I accepted last week!  I have put in my resignation at my current employer and this week will be my last work week there...followed by an already-scheduled vacation for our daughter's wedding. 

After my vacation, I will start my new job in the PACU (post-anesthesia care unit) at West Virginia University Hospital.  I'm excited and apprehensive at the same time!  Change is always difficult, but I'm so ready for this new phase in my life and career!  

In the midst of all of this job hunting/interview/preparing to leave my current job, etc., I've been seeking calm and peace in my quilting.  

I pulled out a project that I had purchased at an estate auction 4 years ago.  The blocks were already pieced but needed put together and quilted.  

I squared up the blocks, laid them out on my design wall in the layout above, then decided that they needed some cream-colored sashing between them to help break up the "busyness" and help make the top large enough to fit a queen bed.  They are now sewn together with the sashing and I am currently working on making a "piano-key" border with the leftover fabric.

I've also been hand-quilting on my daughter's wedding quilt.  (She gets married in 2 weeks!)  The quilt won't be done in time for the wedding, but just this weekend I reached the half-way point and am now working on the second half!!


Monday, August 3, 2015

Another Quilt...

In June a dear friend and co-worker was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer.  Since then she has been off of work while she receives daily chemo and radiation therapy.

I am heartbroken by this turn of events as this lady is probably one of the nicest people you would ever hope to meet.  And she's a great nurse, to boot!  She was my nurse in the Recovery Room last year when I had my surgery.

As quilters do, I decided that I wanted to make her a lap-quilt.  Last weekend I pulled out a "UFO" (unfinished object/project) and put the blocks into a quilt top and this weekend I machine quilted, bound, and labeled the quilt.

After taking it to work to have our co-workers sign the blocks, it is now ready to gift to her...hopefully, sometime this week.

The pattern is called "Wonky Stars" and was a free one that I saw around the internet.  I choose it to be my "leader/ender" project from June 2013-June 2014.  It was a great pattern to use up those odd shapes of fabric that you end up when cutting out a quilt and doesn't require any matching points!!!